As the economy tanks with questions of whether governments, banks, manufacturers, and universities are “too big to fail,” the concept of “shadow systems” takes definition.

it was riddled with contradictions: ubiquitous negotiations on all levels, informality, and a huge shadow system. (Kisser & Kalb, 2010, p. 173)

Sound familiar? Zola suggests in the exhilaration, like gambling, of governing through a “shadow system– a place where free from outside scrutiny and evaluation a miniature version of the game of life can be played”– “the demands of the outside world seem distant” (1974, p. 61).

That’s the point– shadow systems provide a sense of control… but within the systems “too big to fail” when you get caught, what happens? When that outside world sees what’s going on, what happens?

In an extensive analysis and critique of management and governance models at UBC, the Faculty Association Executive expresses our

concern about how much UBC business is conducted in such a manner (i.e., “secret, in camera processes” or shadow systems) and hence not captured by FOI requests….

We are deeply concerned by the evidence that a culture exists in UBC whereby the Chair of the Board is personally involved with managing university personnel and their concerns, and whereby back-channels exist between the Board and the University which bypass formal governance structures.

Shadow systems wherein business is conducted that cannot be “captured by FoI requests” have become business as usual, at UBC and the provincial government. In April, we found that  “the British Columbia government is routinely blocking access to documents that should be made public by claiming that the records don’t exist.”

Wary of corruption and cronyism, on 22 October, the Information and Privacy Commissioner for BC released a scathing report of the practice of withdrawing decision-making to shadow systems. In Access Denied, Denham begins:

Democracy depends on accountable government. Citizens have the right to know how their government works and how decisions are made.

This holds for UBC, by the University Act a corporation bound to accountability to its members: faculty, staff, students.

UBC Management, from top to middle (Deans, ADS & Directors) has lost a sense of how to govern faculty, staff, and students. It has also lost a sense of judgment of what is important and what is not.

UBC’s shadow systems have now come back to haunt a university “too big to fail.”

Protest at UBC
Protest the BoG Meeting

Why: Demand UBC management and Board accountability
When: Tuesday, February 2 at 12:30 2:00
Where: Robert H. Lee Alumni Bldg, Centre, 6163 University Boulevard, UBC
How: Faculty, staff and students will gather w/ guests & speakers, etc.

UBC faculty, staff and students will protest the upcoming UBC Board of Governors Meeting, and will publicly demand that

  • the Board of Governors stops holding secret, undocumented meetings
  • the Board honours its duty to operate in a transparent and accountable fashion
  • an external review of its past practices takes place immediately

For more background on the issues leading to this protest, see this letter from the Faculty Association of UBC, which details how the BoG has, among other things, held committee meetings that left no official record, and made decisions about personnel matters without formal assessments or performance reviews.

Please share with all interested UBC people: faculty, students, alumni.

And faculty are encouraged to wear academic robes if they have them!

We have invited MLA David Eby, MLA Andrew Weaver, Minister Andrew Wilkinson, and President Arvind Gupta to join us and speak about these issues.

More details

We are thrilled to launch this Special Issue of Workplace: A Journal for Academic Labour:

EDUCATE. AGITATE. ORGANIZE: NEW AND NOT-SO-NEW TEACHER MOVEMENTS

Special Issue of Workplace
Edited by
Mark Stern, Amy E. Brown & Khuram Hussain

Table of Contents

  • Forward: The Systemic Cycle of Brokenness
    • Tamara Anderson
  • Introduction to the Special Issue: Educate. Agitate. Organize: New and Not-So-New Teacher Movements
    • Mark Stern, Amy E. Brown, Khuram Hussain
  • Articles
  • Principles to Practice: Philadelphia Educators Putting Social Movement Unionism into Action
    • Rhiannon M Maton
  • Teaching amidst Precarity: Philadelphia’s Teachers, Neighborhood Schools and the Public Education Crisis
    • Julia Ann McWilliams
  • Inquiry, Policy, and Teacher Communities: Counter Mandates and Teacher Resistance in an Urban School District
    • Katherine Crawford-Garrett, Kathleen Riley
  • More than a Score: Neoliberalism, Testing & Teacher Evaluations
    • Megan E Behrent
  • Resistance to Indiana’s Neoliberal Education Policies: How Glenda Ritz Won
    • Jose Ivan Martinez, Jeffery L. Cantrell, Jayne Beilke
  • “We Need to Grab Power Where We Can”: Teacher Activists’ Responses to Policies of Privatization and the Assault on Teachers in Chicago
    • Sophia Rodriguez
  • The Paradoxes, Perils, and Possibilities of Teacher Resistance in a Right-to-Work State
    • Christina Convertino
  • Place-Based Education in Detroit: A Critical History of The James & Grace Lee Boggs School
    • Christina Van Houten
  • Voices from the Ground
  • Feeling Like a Movement: Visual Cultures of Educational Resistance
    • Erica R. Meiners, Therese Quinn
  • Construir Y No Destruir (Build and Do Not Destroy): Tucson Resisting
    • Anita Fernández
  • Existential Philosophy as Attitude and Pedagogy for Self and Student Liberation
    • Sheryl Joy Lieb
  • Epilogue
  • No Sermons in Stone (Bernstein) + Left Behind (Austinxc04)
    • Richard Bernstein, Austinxc04

Thanks for the continued interest in and support of our journals, Critical Education and Workplace, and our ICES and Workplace blogs. And please keep the manuscripts and ideas rolling in!

Sandra Mathison, Stephen Petrina & E. Wayne Ross, co-Directors, Institute for Critical Education Studies

The Faculty Association has levelled an extensive critique of senior management and governance of the University of British Columbia. The FAUBC begins:

Information that has come out from freedom of information requests, as well as Wednesday’s leak of documents, has justified our concern that the Board of Governors had acted via secret, in camera processes that do not meet the standards of best practices for public bodies in British Columbia. Worse, it is becoming apparent that such a lack of public accountability is the normal mode of operation for the UBC Board of Governors, and we are concerned that the actions of the Board may expose the University to charges of contravention of the University Act and provincial privacy and access to information laws….

It is alarming to us that the records supplied in response to a formal request under the Access to Information laws should be incomplete, and that University Counsel should be supplied with incomplete records. As such, this would appear to be a violation of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA)….

What remains unknown about Board procedures is, we think, significant in the matter of Dr. Gupta’s resignation. Board procedures, more generally, appear not to be documented. Instead, they appear to be maintained as some form of “oral knowledge” managed by either the Board Secretary or the University Counsel, depending on the matter. This is at variance with best practices, and certainly inconsistent with a notion of open and transparent university governance….

Given the events that have unfolded thus far and the information that has been revealed, we believe it is time for an external review of the UBC Board and its practices. Such a review should be an open process that engages fully the faculty, students, staff, and alumni of the University of British Columbia.

Superb work on behalf of members of the University and the public good.

Dear John, how goes it?

Did you hear what happened? Spoiler Alert: you’re not going to believe it!

Just a bit of a head’s up cause Arvind is now allowed to talk! (Hey, see if you can get UBC to say something lol)

First Law of UBC’s Statement on Respectful Environment: Thou cannot complain up.

You and our good ‘ol Board of Governors knew this better than everyone; after all, pursuant to Policy #1, you administrated all 97 Policies, plus the Statement.

And we all know what that Statement says about complaining up: “Bullying or harassment does not include the exercise of appropriate managerial or supervisory direction, including performance management.”

The President, of all people, has the right under the Statement to be uppity, snippity, and, to be candid, John, “void of empathy” whenever he, she, or they exercise/s managerial direction. It’s b&w in the Statement. It’s in the book.

Truth be told John, if the middle managers deemed Arvind “too quick to engage in debate in a confrontational or dismissive manner, which is demoralising to a group of executives in fear of their employment security,” you should have enforced the First Law, took those managers to task, and protected that top level.

Remember, the purpose of the Statement is not only to pit faculty against faculty, staff against staff, and student against student. It is all that, secondarily for sure.

The primary purpose of the Statement is to protect managers from any bottom up criticism. That toxic critique of Arvind should’ve been nipped in the bud.

Top down, never bottom up.

It’s awesome to know you and we all now feel we know you even better. You now know us a little better too! Sometimes a “course correction” is ok.

Be good (and if you can’t be good at BMO, by all means, be bad).

UBC, famous for its pots calling kettles black, is now scrambling to explain why its unaccountable Board of Governors is lecturing its President on accountability. “We are still not certain that you fully appreciate the scope of your accountability,” Gupta was told last May.

UBC, famous for cutting off its nose to spite its face and body, is now in reaction mode trying to explain why its President, having just secured $66.5m of federal research funds is the same day hauled into meetings and told “You are deemed too quick to engage in debate in a confrontational or dismissive manner.”

UBC, famous for redecorating its deck chairs as its leadership sinks, is now back-pedalling to explain why its Chairman is dressing down its President for not addressing the Board “in a manner that is ‘Presidential’.”

VP External Relations Steencamp, welcome to UBC. Suddenly there is a lot of communicating to do. “UBC will not be commenting.” Say what?

Given the implications that an unelected body has been running the show at the University of British Columbia, through a series of behind the scenes ad hoc committees, confidence in governance has waned. It is time to recall the Board of Governors. And time to rescind the tuition hike the Board approved in December. Accountability?

After six months of silence, Arvid Gupta is speaking and sorting out distortions of his resignation and what transpired behind the scenes. The Globe and Mail posted a summary last night and this morning Gupta took to the airwaves on CBC.

A one-sided story prompted the University of British Columbia’s ex-President to introduce a reality check. UBC fumbled with Freedom of Information requests for six months but finally disclosed a package earlier this week. UBC Insiders detailed the serious implications of  the embedded files, and by yesterday’s end Gupta broke the silence.

Turns out UBC’s Board of Governors formed an ad hoc committee to deflect the President’s attention from reform to their concerns with his style. Listen to CBC for Gupta’s side.

Suggestions that records were “unintentionally leaked” in the University of British Columbia’s Disclosure of FoI records seem a bit of a leap. UBC’s VP External Relations and University Counsel’s only statement on this says nothing about this being unintentional. “UBC deeply regrets… this privacy breach” but says nothing else.

Embedding files within a pdf is extremely intentional.

We need to establish that the embedded files are original records or were tampered with. The docx files embedded (e.g., in record 491) have no time or date stamp in the properties. When were they written or edited?

I’m not yet convinced that these two embedded docx files are the actual or entire records (i.e., “RE: Review of Meeting Held on May 18” and “Follow-Up to Our June 2nd Conversation”).

If the embedded records @ 491 are original, then this level of communication between the Board of Governors and the UBC President is another sign that this BoG has to go.

All who are calling for wholesale resignations across UBC’s BoG? Yes.

The University of British Columbia’s Office of the University Counsel released records this morning related to  “Dr. Arvind Gupta’s resignation of his appointment as President and Vice-Chancellor.” Click here for Freedom of Information Disclosure Package.

Initial assessment: Redaction is rampant (e.g.,  281-287, 467-83, 492-501, Strategic Plan 516-546, 566-577, 581-584, 846-861). This is sad but predictable. But now we have something to work with. Finally. Thank you FoI?

The process of redaction is simply discretionary: a body can decide what to redact and what to disclose. And for too many records in this Disclosure the redaction is wholesale. Exemptions from disclosure are discretionary and in this case legalism prevails over UBC. Sections 13 (Policy advice or recommendations) and 22 (Disclosure harmful to personal privacy) of the Act are used wholesale in this Disclosure.

Second assessment: Records are undisclosed. There is a large volume of records related to this controversy that remain undisclosed–withheld from Freedom of Information disclosure.

Third assessment: It’s quite a shame and sham, depending on how this disclosure is read. There are way too many red herrings and entirely irrelevant records in this Disclosure (e.g., the Ministry of Advanced Education records, 630-681). I read through the Disclosure package and learned little to nothing about President Gupta’s resignation, his Performance Evaluation, and the role of actors on campus, such as the VPs, Deans, and Board of Governors.

The most relevant records (566-584) are unreasonably redacted: BoG problems late July leading to the resignation. The sole record between Gupta and BoG concerning the resignation (589) is fully redacted. There is an interesting record concerning the Deans (439) as heads were rolling RE President Gupta’s reform of the the now infamous “Provost Model.”

Tentative Final assessment: Request comprehensive disclosure. Follow the money. Deans are running up deficits year after year in many cases as they bloat the admin ranks. Meantime, FT hires stagnate, graduate funding declines, and tuition rises. Follow the money to find out what happened between President Gupta and the BoG.

Index to the Disclosure Package:

  1. Records related to Dr. Arvind Gupta’s Departure, 1-7
  2. Records related to Dr. Arvind Gupta’s Performance Targets, 8-33
  3. Dr. Arvind Gupta’s Expenses, 34-124
  4. Dr. Arvind Gupta’s Calendar, 125-132
  5. Records related to Dr. Arvind Gupta’s Emails, 133-248
  6. Emails between Dr. Arvind Gupta and John Montalbano, 249-587
  7. Emails between Dr. Arvind Gupta and Board of Governors in relation to resignation, 588-589
  8. John Montalbano Emails containing “Arvind or Gupta” and “resignation or Piper”, 590-611
  9. Susan Danard Emails containing “Arvind or Gupta” and “resignation or Piper”, 612-629
  10. Emails between President’s Office, Board of Governors & Ministry of Education, 630-681

The University of British Columbia is renowned for its lack of accountability and transparency in budget practices. This past year, with sustained failures of accountability and transparency since President Gupta’s resignation in August, the handling of UBC’s budget has reached a new bottom.

Early last week, VP Finance Simpson assembled the Deans and Directors of Finance from each Faculty to present their budgets. The optics are that they played patty-cake over the budget for two days. President Piper is on record commenting that the ‘presentations were excellent’. Yes, many of the Faculties’ budgets are a mess—in perennial deficit– but the PowerPoint slides the Deans presented are a thing of beauty. So that’s where we’re at here at UBC.

Yes, the administrators all get a trophy for participating. Is this not the ‘pampered Dean syndrome’?

Yes, you’ve been pampered, cosseted, doted upon, helmeted, bubble-wrapped…. You’ve been feted and fawned over and called sweetie pie. Yes, you have. And, certainly, we’ve been to your games, your plays, your recitals, your science fairs. Absolutely, smiles ignite when you walk into a room, and hundreds gasp with delight at your every tweet. 

In the meantime, too messed (tuum est, eh?) is the budget that in December President Piper rushed the Board of Governors to once again approve international student tuition increases across the Faculties, e.g.:

  • An increase in tuition for new incoming international students effective May 1, 2016 and for the two succeeding academic years:
  • (a) International undergraduate students (including baccalaureate and post baccalaureate programs):
  • 15% increase for all programs (listed in Appendix A), except the Bachelor of Education (0% increase) and the Bachelor of Commerce (23.5% increase) for 2016-2017 and 2017-2018.
  • A range of increases from 0% to 15%, as specified in Appendix A, for 2018-2019.
  • (b) Non-thesis-based international graduate students:
  • A range of increases from 3% to 100%, for programs specified in Appendix A, for 2016-2017.

The PPT slides are a thing of beauty.

Meantime, administrative bloat continues unabated at UBC. Some of the administrators, with their Faculties in deficit, walked out of last week’s budget meeting with the President’s and VP Finance’s approval to hire, yes, more administrators.

Meanwhile, graduate student funding has stagnated; internal graduate funding in some Faculties has not increased for 15 years. Departments have been starved for FT faculty hires and postdocs face an increasingly bleak academic job market.

Meantime, agencies of budget accountability and transparency at UBC, such as the Council of Senates’ Budget Committee, have been reduced to attendants of minutiae. In September, the Budget “Committee Chair noted that the Committee’s formal mandate to advise the President on the University budget, but that it now tended for focus on areas of particular interest to its members, such as the new Student Information System.”

Such is the state of UBC’s budget accountability and transparency. Please, someone has to hold these Deans to account for their budgets.

Oh yea, almost forgot again, happy new year + #100!

The Faculty Association of UBC weighed in on the search for a new President. Since the sudden and still unaccounted for resignation of President Gupta, the University has been reduced to speculation after speculation and controversy after controversy. Now, a search committee for a new President is groping in the dark. With no sense of history or what happened, the search committee is wondering what to do next. Enter the FAUBC:

We strongly urge you to pursue the appointment of an external candidate, one not associated with recent controversies…. Sudden presidential transitions in the university context are unusual, and destructive of internal and external confidence in the institution. It is critical to have a new president who is clearly not part of the pre-existing set of circumstances that saw these crises precipitate.

We add, as well, the observation that the Faculty Association has a large number of unresolved grievances involving the central administration and several deans on core issues such as academic freedom, human rights, and collegial governance (e.g. deans’ interference in hiring and in workload assignments). It will be an unfortunate distraction and complication if the new president is someone al ready implicated in any of these matters. We urge you to seize the opportunity to make a fresh start as we begin to move forward.

THE COURAGE OF HOPELESSNESS: DEMOCRATIC EDUCATION IN THE AGE OF EMPIRE

E. Wayne Ross
University of British Columbia
Friday, January 15th, 2016  12:30-2:00 p.m.
Scarfe Room 310

Abstract:
In this talk I argue there is a disconnect between the rhetoric and reality of democracy in North America that subverts traditional approaches to democratic education. The tropes that have historically dominated the discourse on democracy and democratic education now amount to selling students (and ourselves) a lie about history and contemporary life. Our challenge is to re-imagine our roles as educators and find ways to create opportunities for students to create meaningful personal understandings of the world. Education is not about showing life to people, but bringing them to life. The aim is not getting students to listen to convincing lectures by experts, but getting them to speak for themselves in order to achieve, or at least strive for an equal degree of participation and a more democratic, equitable, and justice future. This requires a new mindset, something I call dangerous citizenship.

Short Bio:
E. Wayne Ross is Professor in the Department of Curriculum and Pedagogy at UBC. He has written and edited numerous books including: Critical Theories, Radical Pedagogies and Social Education (Sense, 2010); The Social Studies Curriculum: Purposes, Problems and Possibilities (4th Ed., SUNY Press, 2014) and Working for Social Justice Inside and Outside the Classroom (Peter Lang, 2016). He also edits the journals Critical Education, Workplace: A Journal for Academic Labor, and Cultural Logic.

Open Letter to UBC President Piper:
Time to Lay Down the Mace

It has been an emotional year for the University of British Columbia. As budgets moved from Central, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada launched Honouring the Truth, Reconciling for the Future. The residential university and college take on new meaning. As we launched the celebration of our Centennial at UBC 100, our President resigned under a cloak of secrecy. As we began to party, we launched an investigation to discover the lengths to which a Chair of the Board of Governors and administrators might go to suppress academic freedom. Now, as we march to Convocation, students and alumni launch evidence that UBC is failing to properly respond to sexual assaults on campus.

In the meantime, terrorists and terror struck Sharm el-Sheikh, Beirut and Paris while the dogs of war howl for bombers and drones to command from the skies above. Increasingly larger regions of the world live in a state of emergency.

It’s difficult to know where this University now stands or what it stands for.

To take a stand symbolic of peace and reconciliation, please lay down the mace for ceremonies and Convocation. Please put away the coat of arms and lay down the mace. If not for good, then how about for peace?

It is time to retire this symbol of aggression, authority and war. It’s time to march to graduation ceremonies this week with open and empty hands as symbolic of peace and reconciliation of controversies and roles of the President’s Office.

UBC’s mace is a relic but a relic of what? The mace is symbolic speech but what is it saying about us now?

From ancient times, this club, this weapon of assault and offence, the mace was gradually adorned until the late twelfth century when it doubled as a symbol of civil office. Queen Elizabeth I granted her royal mace to Oxford in 1589. From military and civil power derives academic authority. The rest is history and it is not all good.

Dr. Thomas Lemieux, School of Economics with UBC’s Mace at the May 2015 Convocation.

Dr. Thomas Lemieux, School of Economics, with UBC’s Mace at the May 2015 Convocation.

It is time to retire the macebearer, whose importance is inflated every year by the image’s presence on UBC’s graduation pages leading to Convocation. In pragmatic terms, if the mace falls into the hands of the wrong macebearer or manager at this point, someone’s liable to get clocked with it.

Is UBC’s mace still a respectable appendage to Convocation?

Remember, since that fateful November day in 1997, just five months into your Presidency, when student activists put their bodies and minds on the line at the APEC protest, Tuum Est adorns both the can of mace sprayed in their eyes and the ceremonial mace that the President’s Office is eager to carry across campus every November and May. That’s “too messed,” as the students say.

Is it not time to retire both?

Laura Kane & Geordon Omand, Canadian Press, November 24, 2015–The University of British Columbia seems more concerned about handling a public relations crisis than taking meaningful action to help women feel safe after multiple allegations of sexual assault, says a complainant.

Glynnis Kirchmeier, who is planning to launch a human-rights case against UBC, published an open letter to the university’s interim president on Tuesday.

In the letter, the former student questions why Martha Piper issued a public apology but didn’t directly contact her or other students who made complaints.

“I was surprised to learn on Sunday that you had issued an apology to ‘the women in these cases who feel they have been let down by our university,”‘ she wrote.

“Did you mean to include me? I did not receive a personal communication from you, though you could have asked associate VP Dr. Sara-Jane Finlay for my email and phone number.”

She and other former and current students held a news conference Sunday, when Kirchmeier announced her plans to file a complaint with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal. The women said the university lacks a clear policy for handling sexual assault reports and that it took a year and a half to act on six complaints about a PhD student.

Kirchmeier was not assaulted by the student but said she witnessed his behaviour and reported it to the university in January 2014. She said UBC failed to act on complaints by her and others until last week, when it said the student was no longer at the university.

Read More: Vancouver Sun

Emma Partridge, Ubyssey, November 20, 2015–A much anticipated documentary by the fifth estate has made some startling discoveries that ultimately cast an unflattering spotlight on how UBC handles sexual assault and the university’s lack of an overarching sexual assault policy.

According to CBC, Dmitry Mordvinov, who was working towards his PhD in history, was accused of multiple sexual offences that were committed two years ago. However, Mordvinov was only expelled from the university last week.

UBC spokesperson Susan Danard issued an emailed statement Friday evening responding to the story.

“It is important to understand that BC privacy law prevents us from disclosing information about or responding to specific cases mentioned in the media. What we can say is we continuously strive to improve our collective response to sexual violence through education. We can do better and we will do better,” read part of the statement.

Several women came forward to the fifth estate to tell stories of assaults committed by Mordvinov. One preferred to remain anonymous, but another, Caitlin Cunningham, went on record. She told the CBC that after reporting her attack to the university, UBC encouraged mediation between herself and Mordvinov.

According to the CBC’s reporting, Monica Kay, director of conflict management, perpetuated a sense that the survivors should keep their experiences to themselves. At this time, Kay has not responded to requests for comment.

When The Ubyssey spoke with Clark Lundeen, assistant principal of Green College — the residence in which Mordvinov was staying while studying for his PhD — he said that reports of sexual assaults would be taken very seriously. Based on the findings of an investigation, the survivor would be referred to on-campus resources for support.

“Confirming is a difficult thing. If we receive a complaint from somebody at the college who alleged that they’re a survivor of sexual assault by somebody, then we take it very seriously and make sure that their safety will be made a priority and that includes … not sharing information that might compromise their privacy,” said Lundeen in that interview.

Although Lundeen would not reveal anything that could have potentially comprised the privacy of the survivor and the alleged assault victim, he could confirm that a report of sexual assault had been filed at the college within the last two years. According to Lundeen, the response by Green College “would be very similar to how it would be handled in any other residence managed by Student Housing and Hospitality Services.”

According to Janice Robinson, director of Residence Life and Administration in Student Housing and Hospitality Services (SHHS), should a survivor disclose their experience the response would be that the residence advisor offers peer support and focuses on getting the survivor the resources and help they need.

“At that point, a residence advisor would also share with the Residence Life manager that a resident has disclosed,” said Robinson. “From there, the Residence Life manager would coach [the] residence advisor on how to be the most supportive that they could, and that would include making sure that the student knows about resources on campus and off campus.”

When asked to address the issues raised by the fifth estate documentary, SHHS, Green College and Piper all insist that UBC takes the issue of sexual assault seriously. However, if CBC is correct in their findings, it took the university almost a year to expel the graduate student who they were officially aware to have assaulted a woman in the spring of 2014.

All of this is ultimately complicated by the fact that UBC does not have a single overarching policy on what to do in the event of a sexual assault. When asked about the progress of such a policy in Senate, both Piper and interim Provost Angela Redish said the question ought to be directed to the VP students, Louise Cowin, who was not present.

According to Ashley Bentley of the AMS Sexual Assault Support Centre (SASC), it is problematic that UBC lacks such a policy to deal with assaults and instead relies more on Policy 3 — dealing with harassment and discrimination in general.

“My experiences from talking to clients, to survivors of violence and to members of this community is that the lack of a policy by UBC makes it seem like they aren’t supporting survivors — that they’re not caring,” said Bentley. “It’s not necessarily to say that a policy solves everything, but what I do think it does is it has clear set guidelines and processes in place which at least make survivors feel like they have options.”

Many other universities have an overarching policy on sexual assault, such as Queen’s and University of Toronto to name a few. According to Bentley, UBC is “quite behind, honestly.”

 

Read More: Ubyssey

On 27 October, UBC Insiders broke the story of the collusion between the UBC School of Kinesiology, Faculty of Education, and the School’s Undergraduate Society (KUS). In March 2015, the students held a referendum on a $250 fee to help pay for a new building for the School and Faculty. UBC Insiders obtained files through FoI that suggest about 16 months’ worth of influence of the School and Faculty on the students to secure a “YES” majority on the referendum.

UBC Insiders found top down influence (i.e., top of admin down) that adds up to minimally $41,624 and a curious “Make Your Mark” campaign.

Asking for an explanation of why a School or Faculty would go to these lengths to influence a student referendum, E. Wayne Ross called for a Fact-Finding investigation. Short of an investigation, Faculty administrators offered a consultation report this week (see full report below).

It’s probably just as well that there is just consultation with the School and students in lieu of a fact-finding investigation, as when the University contracts out to fact-finding, mysteriously, there are never any facts to find concerning administrators.

In this most recent report, it’s all just written off as administrative pluck, exuberance and “an excess of enthusiasm.”

Funny that, as we say the same of faculty, staff, students and their academic freedom: exuberance with surplus enthusiasm!

By way of a series of consultations, the Faculty of Education reports:

To provide a follow-up report on the Faculty Meeting item regarding, “the alleged conflicts of interest and potential ethical breaches in the School of Kinesiology’s April 2015 student referendum.”

We have consulted with various offices at the University, to determine at the most fundamental level, the evidentiary foundation that would warrant designing and arranging to be carried out, a “fact-finding” investigation. Such an investigation would be very expensive and would need a clear warrant in terms of evidence of basic problems of procedure, relationship management, finance, and/or policy.

The UBC offices we have consulted include:

  1. UBC Office of University Counsel
  2. UBC Faculty Relations
  3. UBC Office of the Vice President, Students
  4. School of Kinesiology

Regarding the School of Kinesiology there are a number of questions that have been raised concerning the “Make your Mark” Referendum of the Kinesiology Undergraduate Society (KUS) campaign (to add to KIN student fees to raise funds towards a new building) and distributed via media outlets.

On the basis of our investigation to-date, it appears that:

  1. Since the KUS took the Referendum off the AMS ratification agenda, the whole issue of the fees linked with the KUS Referendum is moot.
  2. Since neither the UBC nor the AMS/KUS policies regarding “conflict of interest” preclude Faculty/School and Student Society partnerships, there is no apparent ground for continued concern about the narrative of conflict of interest on the part of the School.
  3. The KUS may have erred in the design of “Make Your Mark” vis a vis the AMS policy of “impartial elections” but we – the University/School faculty members — do not work in a supervisory relationship to the student societies, which do not report to us nor are they governed by faculty/Schools.

With respect to “conflict of interest” – UBC’s policy on conflict of interest (Policy 97)  is concerned with personal conflicts of interest – not institutional conflicts of interest.  There has been no suggestion anywhere that the School of Kinesiology nor its executives benefitted from this matter personally (for example by benefitting financially).

There is no policy or rule that we are aware of that would preclude UBC units from partnering with student unions on initiatives they both support.  There have been several examples of undergraduate student societies contributing to buildings (in return for guarantees of student amenities) through student fees and all of these initiatives involved very substantial interactions between the undergraduate student union, the AMS, the faculty and the UBC central administration.  So the fact that the School was working closely with its KUS undergraduate society would not of itself be noteworthy.

Accordingly, we see no problem at-hand nor any substantive basis for carrying out any further fact-finding or other investigation.

There are, definitely, larger issues that lurk in this scenario worthy of a broad and open discussion that pertains to the current context of post-secondary education and the dramatic withdrawal of support from the Province and Federally — increasing fiscal pressures that have caused academic units to be more creative about issues of revenues, whether this is by seeking increases in international tuition or by creating fund raising partnerships with student organizations or with alumni to build infrastructure. These are complex matters. They are not, however, the basis for a narrative of blame or fault lodged with any particular academic unit. If there is any fault at all to be lodged with particular units it could only be, on the face of the evidence, of an excess of enthusiasm to support our engagement in the project of public education.

Dr. Blye Frank
Dean, Faculty of Education

Dr. Mary K. Bryson
Senior Associate Dean, Administration & Innovation, Faculty of Education

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OPEN LETTER

To the people of Europe,

In the face of the migration crisis over the last few months, Europe’s people demonstrated that they do not stand for a culture of fear, but for a culture of care. This idea now has to turn into a promise.

Now, more then ever, it is time to reach out again – responding to Friday’s violence with full-hearted, unquestioning openness, rather than with angst, distrust and anger.

On Friday, November 13, 2015, Europe was under attack. But it was not Paris, Europe, or the “West” that was under attack. What was under attack, and is under attack now, after the tragedy of Paris, is the inspiring, deeply touching care that people throughout Europe showed over the last few months – despite the shrill voices of a few.

In the very beginning of what is called the refugee crisis, a current of care and love ignited all Europe – and showed that this “crisis” was a crisis of governments, not of the people. You acted, where state action failed, and reached out in an effort of care and solidarity — with no regard to where people came from, or who they were. What mattered was reaching out a helping hand, And reaching out you did. Europeans stood up, raising their voices for those who had no standing and no voice.

Many people died on November 13, and the world was full of tears. But if we are not careful, there will be more violence and more tears.   The people of Europe now stand at the precipice of a fundamental choice, a choice that will, without exaggeration, determine the fate of countless more lives.

We cannot respond to the terror of Paris with our own terror. We can not respond by putting up fences around Europe. We must not refuse to reach out to those who seek help, fleeing the same terror that swept over Paris. We can not give in to the fear that those who terrorize spread.

We are deeply concerned about how Europe and the world will react to this terror. Putting up fences, refusing helping hands, closing down where we need to be open, resorting to distrust where we should be faithful: This is what those who attacked us want. They did not attack Paris that night. They attacked what we stand for, what we belief with our whole heart: to be open to everyone, to help those who seek help, to be together in fraterinté .

But we are faithful: We saw how Europe can be. You proved to the world that Europe indeed can be a safe harbor in a stormy sea.  When we now are faced with the painful catastrophe that happened in Paris, we cannot destroy the faith that the world, and particularly those who seek our help put in us. We are entrusted with a great responsibility: to care. This is who we are, and need to be.

Going forward, we must work together on many fronts:

  • The media must not forget their responsibility for sobriety, avoiding reporting that fuels anger and xenophobia! And they must continue to report on the suffering of those who try to cross our borders, or who already live among us but without secure standing.
  • Our governments must not respond to violence with violence. Governments must not give in to the hatred and frustration that pain so easily justifies. We must not repeat the mistakes of our history that ignited the terror in the first place. We must not become a place known for its fences, surveillance and paranoia. Europe much be a place and symbol of openness and freedom.
  • And the people of Europe must remember their power and responsibility to become a model of civility for a new age. We must remember what was achieved in the response to the so-called migration crisis. We must remember that reaching out makes a difference – to individuals, and to the whole society we share

So, yes, we have faith: We believe that Europeans will hold high the ideals their societies are built upon.
We have faith that we will continue being touched by you.
As you will inspire us by your actions.
As you will continue to care.

Signed,

Sign the Open Letter

At the University of British Columbia, there are depths, and then there are new depths, in the mistreatment of PT faculty members. In the midst of a teaching term, a faculty member received this directive from UBC’s administration:

  1. Per the policy and requirements of space usage in [the academic building] for Sessional instructors, the [123] temporary office space, must be cleared of all personal belongings, borrowed library items and additional furniture installed, by December 1, 2015.  The same applies to the personal belongings being stored in the mailroom. You will be responsible for the cost for clearing and removal of items. Unwanted items may be left with E-Waste by the backside door of [the academic building].
  2. If, by Dec 1, 2015, the space is not restored to its original condition, items will be disposed of, and you shall be invoiced for the cost of clearing and removal.
  1. As requested, I attach the photos of the room in its original condition, taken prior to it being temporarily assigned to you in February 2015.  Please refer to the photos along with a list of furniture items below, confirming the items that shall remain in [123] as of December 1, 2015.
  • 1 corner desk with mobile file storage (under desk)
  • 2 task chairs
  • 1 coat rack
  • 1 Cisco phone

Yes, sad as it is, there are new lows in the mistreatment of faculty members.

For an analysis of the new academic work and workplace, see “Threat Convergence.”

Oh yea, almost forgot, happy birthday UBC!

[Cross-posted from Where the Blog has No Name]

What was he thinking? - University of Louisville president posed for photo in sombrero, poncho at the his 2015 Halloween party

University of Louisville president James Ramsey  posed for photo in sombrero, poncho at the his 2015 Halloween party

In the late 1990s, Kentucky’s legislature initiated a program to upgrade and reform the state’s postsecondary education system, it was called “Bucks for Brains.” (The state’s promotional tagline at the time was “Open for Business.”)

I was recruited to the University of Louisville in 2001 and spent two-and-a-half years on the faculty there as a department chair and distinguished university scholar, which gave me an up close and personal experience with a university administration that’s, as they say where my family’s from, sigogglin.

John W. Shumaker, a classics scholar, was UofL president when I arrived and he proved to be an incredible fund raiser, increasing the university’s endowment from under $200 million to $550 million.

Of course, the UofL has long been the recipient of corporate largesse, especially from the Louisville’s corporate giants Brown-Forman (one of America’s largest spirits and wine companies); Brown & Williamson (which chemically enhanced the addictiveness of cigarettes, remember whistleblower Jeffrey Wigand? No? Well I’m sure you remember Russell Crowe playing Wigand the blockbuster movie The Insider); Papa John’s Pizza (UofL football Cardinals play in Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium); and Yum! Brands (“feeding the world” crap food via KFC, Pizza Hut, and, of course, Taco Bell, more on the Mexican connection later).

The Brown & Williamson Club at the University of Louisville's Papa John's Cardinal Stadium

The Brown & Williamson Club at the University of Louisville’s Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium

After Shumaker left to head up the University of Tennessee (where he resigned in disgrace after 3 years), he was replaced by James R. Ramsey, who had been Kentucky’s state budget director under Gov. Paul E. Patton (who became wealthy by exploiting Kentucky’s coal miners).

Patton’s major achievement as governor was overhauling postsecondary education in the Kentucky. But Patton’s political career was de-railed by duelling scandals: (1)  an extramarital affair and a sex-for-favors scandal; and (2) pardoning four of his political advisers who were indicted for violating Kentucky’s campaign finance laws and for allegedly abusing his patronage powers.

All of this is just everyday Kentucky politics, so Patton wasn’t distracted enough to forget he had to find a soft-landing for his budget director, thus Ramsey, with no university administration experience, became the 17th president of the University of Louisville.

Since Ramsey has been in office the UofL, in endowment has continued to grow and is now pushing the $1 billion mark, which is really the only logical explanation for why he hasn’t been bounced because Ramsey’s administration has more ethical lapses than Carter has liver pills, pretty much proving that the UofL has more bucks than brains.

Robert Felner: Former Dean, Convicted Felon

Felner arrived in Louisville with some spiffy credentials: PhD in psychology from Yale; former head of the department of psychology at the University of Illinois; a CV packed with pages upon pages listing his publications in top journals and, most importantly for the UofL administration, a staggering number of grants.

Despite several red flags about Felner’s candidacy for dean of UofL’s College of Education and Human Development, Ramsey and his long time provost, Shirley Willihnganz, couldn’t wait to get Felner on campus.

Ramsey was in such as rush to land Felner he and Willihnganz forgot to tell the interim dean (and other finalist for the position) they hired Felner, so he was left to discover the decision when Felner call his secretary and started giving her instructions. So much for that HR seminar!

Things in CEHD soon started to fall apart.

I resigned from my department chair position two weeks after Felner took over as dean and later moved to UBC.

Within a few years, there had been 30 grievances filed by faculty and students against Felner for a wide range of abusive managerial practices and a faculty vote of no-confidence in Felner’s leadership of the CEHD. Reasons given by faculty for the vote of non-confidence included:

Public humiliation of faculty, work place harassment, retaliation for voicing opinions, little or no governance, decisions that hurt College, unacceptable and unfair hiring practice; rude, offensive, unethical behavior by CEHD representatives; denial of support for research to those who differ in opinion; and extreme inequity of pay. (See CEHD meeting notes published here.)

Despite the abominable conditions in CEHD, UofL Provost Willihnganz and Ramsey both supported Felner publicly.

One year after the vote of no-confidence, Felner announced he was leaving the UofL to become president of the University of Wisconsin, Parkside.

The Chronicle of Higher Education described Felner as “riding high” a couple of years into his deanship at UofL, well-paid, and having secured a $700,000 grant from the US Department of Education. However, he “pressed his luck” during his last weeks in Louisville.

Even though only $96,000 remained in the account, he implored Louisville officials to approve a $200,000 subcontract with a nonprofit organization in Illinois that had already received $450,000 from the grant. Perhaps, he suggested, the university could draw on a special fund that had been established by the daughter of a former trustee.

The Illinois group, Mr. Felner said, had been surveying students and teachers in Kentucky. That survey would “let us give the feds something that should make them very happy about the efficiency and joint commitment of the university to doing a good job with an earmark, as I know we will want more from this agency,” he wrote in an e-mail message on June 18.

But on June 20, his last day as Dean of CEHD before he headed off to Wisconsin, those big black SUVs with government plates (like the ones you see on Criminal Minds) rolled into the CEHD parking lot. US Secret Service, US Postal Inspectors, and UofL Police questioned Felner and escorted him off campus, along with his computers and records.

There was a simultaneous raid on UW-Parkside to confiscate material Felner had shipped ahead of his arrival there.

In October 2008, a federal grand jury indicted Felner on nine counts of mail fraud, money laundering, and tax evasion. According to the indictment,

the Illinois nonprofit group, known as the National Center on Public Education and Prevention, was simply a shell that funneled money into the personal bank accounts of Mr. Felner and Thomas Schroeder, a former student of his and the group’s “executive director.” Prosecutors say the two men siphoned away not only the $694,000 earmarked grant, but also $1.7-million in payments from three urban school districts, money that ought to have gone to the legitimate public-education center that Mr. Felner had created in Rhode Island.

In January 2010, Felner pleaded guilty to nine Federal charges, including income tax evasion.

In May 2010, Felner was sentenced to 63 months in US Federal Prison for his role in defrauding defrauding the UofL and the University of Rhode Island, where he had been director of the School of Education, of $2.3 million of US Department of Education funds earmarked for No Child Left Behind Act research.

aka Robert Felner

10775-033 aka Robert Felner was released from US Prison in May 2014

For a a short course on the felonious Felner see the PageOneKentucky.com summary of events. For a full course on the Felonious Felner and the incompetence and ethical lapses of Ramsey’s UofL administration click here. (Shout out to Jake at PageOneKentucky for excellent investigative reporting on Felner and the UofL.)

For Workplace Blog coverage of Felner click here.

And here is a Louisville Courier-Journal profile of Felner that pretty much sums up the guy that Ramsey defended until he pleaded guilty: Robert Felner profile: Arrogant, outrageous, abusive and duplicitous.

Felner Footnotes: Indians, John Deasy, Non-Disclosure Agreements & Ramsey as the Frito Bandito

(1) When Felner announced his resignation, UofL president Ramsey wroted to Felner and said he was worried about “letting the Indians get back in control of the reservation.” That’s some serious respect for university faculty and the idea of shared governance, eh?

(2) Los Angeles school superintendent, John Deasy, has had his academic credentials called into question. Deasy was given a PhD by the University of Louisville after he was enrolled for four months and received a total of nine credits.

Deasy’s doctoral advisor was, surprise, Robert Felner! Deasy had previously awarded $375,000 in consulting contracts to Felner, while Deasy was Superintendent of Santa Monica schools.

Ramsey appointed a “blue-ribbon” panel to investigate Deasy’s degree. The panel found that getting a PhD in four months at the UofL was not cause for concern, thus plunging the UofL’s academic reputation down into the neighbourhood of fly-by-night for-profit “higher” education.

Deasy is now working in an unaccredited training program sponsored by educational de-formers the Broad Foundation, which teaches school leaders business methods and supports charter schools and closing public schools.

(3) Ramsey has been making double retirement payouts to UofL administrators for their silence.

Records show that the school paid a full year’s salary to outgoing vice presidents Michael Curtin ($252,350) and Larry Owsley ($248,255) and to assistant to the president Vivian Hibbs ($66,391) to induce them not to “disparage, demean or impugn the university or its senior leadership.”

In March 2014, UofL made a $346,000.00 settlement with university counsel Angela Kosawha:

The University of Louisville is paying another large settlement in connection with the retirement of a high-ranking official — this time, $346,844 to its top lawyer. University counsel Angela Koshewa is on a three-month leave of absence before she officially retires June 1. Documents obtained under the Kentucky Open Records Act show the university is paying Koshewa — who has questioned some expenditures and proposals backed by President James Ramsey and Dr. David Dunn, the executive vice president for Health Affairs — twice her final salary.

It costs a lot for Ramsey to cover up details of his administration’s incompetence and shenanigans, but remember there are lots of bucks at UofL.

(4) Provost Shirley Willihnganz stepped down as UofL provost earlier this year. The Louisville Courier-Journal reported that

Under her watch, however, university employees have stole, misspent or mishandled at least $7.6 million in schemes at the health science campus, the law school, the business school and the athletic department’s ticket office.

Willihnganz also was criticized for approving about $1 million in buyouts for former high-ranking employees, some of which included agreements not to disparage the university or its leaders.

She also was forced to apologize to CEHD faculty in 2008 for failing to take any common-sense action against Felner for his intimidation, harassment, humiliation and retaliation against faculty, staff, students and alumni.

Willihnganz said at the time that she tended to dismiss the early complaints against Felner — including a no-confidence vote by faculty — because he was a “high performer” and because the complaints came from professors and staff “entrenched in their ways and resistant to change.”

She later told faculty at a meeting that she was sorry. “Mostly what I think I want to say is people have been hurt and something very bad happened, and as provost I feel like I am ultimately responsible for that,” she said.

No duh! She actually is directly responsible for the Felner disaster (along with Ramsey), that’s probably why she feels that way. And speaking of resistance to change …

(5) This next item has nothing to do with Felner, except that his former boss and advocate, James Ramsey, is also the long time boss of UofL basketball coach Rick Pitino who admitted to having sex with a women in a swanky Italian restaurant in Louisville. Apparently that’s not a problem with Ramsey and the UofL because Pitino said it wasn’t rape.

And, now Pitino is using hookers and strippers to recruit high school basketball players to come to the UofL. See Dave Zirin’s pieces on the latest Ramsey supervised scandal:

(6) And I almost forgot. Remember the Taco Bell/Mexican connection. This week Ramsey had a little halloween party at the UofL. Ramsey goes racist (again). Yes, he dressed up like the Frito Bandito.

UofL President James Ramsey illustrating his knowledge of multiculturalism

UofL President James Ramsey says “Yo quiero Taco Bell.”

And you thought the HR training at UofL was bad, get that guy to the diversity office and cross your fingers that they’re better than the university’s accounting folks.

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